Phillies: Bryce Harper Grateful, Looks Forward to 2020 Season
Phillies OF Bryce Harper has arrived in Clearwater; while grateful for a great first year in red pinstripes, he still wants to work hard to be even better.
While the Philadelphia Phillies made some significant additions this offseason, including hiring Joe Girardi as manager, as well as acquiring former New York stars SS Didi Gregorius and RHP Zack Wheeler.
Still, no member of the team’s 26-man roster during the 2020 season will be more important or crucial to their overall success than right-fielder Bryce Harper.
After slashing .260/.372/.510 with 36 doubles, 35 home runs, 114 RBI and 99 walks over 157 games in his first season in red pinstripes, Harper arrived to the Carpenter Complex on Sunday ahead of Monday’s first workout for position players.
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Harper will embark on his ninth season in the majors, seven of which he spent with the Washington Nationals, from 2012 to 2018, in which he produced 184 home runs. The Las Vegas, Nevada, native, six-time All-Star, 2015 MVP and Silver Slugger Award winner said that last year as Phillie, he felt like he was “able to just be Bryce.”
“I was able to go out there, be myself and play. When I went into the offseason all my buddies were like, ‘How did you like Philly?’ I loved it. It was unbelievable,” Harper told media. “I think people might look at me and go ‘Yeah, right … you’re crazy.’ But, no. I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the fans, I enjoyed the people.”
Harper noted that Philadelphia’s blue-collar “feel” and “mentality” that holds players accountable drove him to want to work hard, which in turn made him better as a player.
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“It made me want to work hard in the outfield, it made me want to work hard as a hitter. It made me want to play every single day,” he continued. “That’s my goal every single year … I want to play as many games as I can. Of course, I’m not going to play162, but hopefully I’m playing 159, 158 somewhere in there.”
One of the rare qualities Harper has is that even though he is considered to be among the game’s great players, he is always willing to take advice and learn from others to improve on and off the field. Last year, he frequently consulted with then-outfield/baserunning coach Paco Figueroa.
“I want to work hard to get better in the outfield; I was able to do that with Paco,” Harper said. “We need players that are coachable as well … I want to be as coachable as I can. I want them to be able to come up to me and talk to me about what they think or what they’re seeing.”
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Coming to Philadelphia surely was no easy task for Harper, 27, and his family, who really only knew two cities: Las Vegas, where he grew up, and Washington, D.C., where he started playing as young as 19 years old. Not to mention, his wife, Kayla, was expecting and the time of his early March 2019 signing.
Harper says he cannot thank Phillies fans enough for last year and “really welcoming” him and his family. Now, he looks ahead to 2020 under new manager Joe Girardi.
“I’m really looking forward to what we got this year and what we can do.”